Thursday, August 9, 2012

Summer Water

We are big water drinkers around here. I definitely love an occasional cup of coffee or tea, but I have never been a fan of what we Midwesterners call "pop", or any of the other gimicky drinks that are on the market today that magically give you energy, help you focus, make you lose weight, cure a hangover, etc. We need even more of it here in CO because we are at a higher elevation. I know I don't keep up as much as I should and my body can really tell when it hasn't had enough water.

Most of us know our bodies are comprised of 60-70% water which means we need to replenish often to keep an optimal level of hydration. Dehydration can cause dry skin, dry mouth, sleepiness, constipation, headaches, weakness, dizziness and more. In fact, we often mistake being dehydrated with feeling hungry so instead of recognizing that our body is thirsty for water, we fill it with unnecessary calories and are still left feeling like something is missing. Drinking a glass of water when your body is having a craving for food is a great way to not only get more water, but to put a curb on your cravings. 

I personally love good old fashioned water, but I realize that many people want some sort of flavoring. Well, what better way to flavor your water than with the abundance of fruit and herbs that grow in the summer? I always make flavored water when I have company over and showcase it in a big glass water dispenser (it looks just as good as it tastes...great way to add some elegance to your next party!) So after having some neighbors over the other night, the next day when my son was asking for juice for the third time (I try to limit his juice to one diluted cup a day), I thought, why don't I always have flavored water on hand? My son loves it so we can maybe even eliminate juice in the summer. I love it and might actually drink more water. And I always have an abundance of fruit in the fridge and herbs in the garden. So far I have been adding a sliced lemon, several watermelon slices and several sprigs of mint because watermelon is cheap and we can rarely finish a whole one. Plus I have mint growing like crazy. I think any fruit would do though, especially if you have a huge supply of fresh picked berries. Just smash a handful up in the bottom. Cucumbers and cantaloup would also be good along with rosemary and basil. I will definitely be playing around with some combinations. For starters, here is what we have currently been doing but don't be afraid to get creative!

Ingredients:
1 lemon washed and sliced
2-4 slices of watermelon
3-4 stalks of mint
1 large pitcher
filtered water

Directions:
Put the sliced lemon, watermelon and mint into the pitcher. Add water and refrigerate. We were going through it so fast that I was just adding more water to the pitcher whenever we poured some. I will toss the fruit and start over after two days in the fridge.

Bottoms up!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sandwich Ideas for Kids

We all know the pressure on parents to get 3 good meals into our kids everyday, and, if you are like me, I only use "kid food" (hot dogs, mac n cheese, fish sticks, chicken nuggets, pizza) as a last resort when I am unprepared and/or pmsing! (always organic versions!) So what can we feed our kids that is quick and easy, exposes them to a variety of tastes and colors, and is healthy too? I have gotten pretty creative with the sandwich and thought I would share some of our favorites. We seemed to have fallen into a cereal rut for breakfast, though I do try to sneak in healthy, homemade pancakes, homemade oatmeal, or eggs occasionally (and almost always a green smoothie!) But I really try to mix it up for lunch and dinner. Plus, sandwiches are easy to pack for picnics and school and can be a really creative way to sneak in all sorts of nutrients.

I always start with Rudy's organic honey wheat bread. Even though we eat meat occasionally, I have always been leery of lunch meat, so most of our sandwiches are vegetarian. Jamison is not a picky eater and I'm not quite sure if it is because I got really, really lucky, or because I have always offered him a variety of foods and never cooked him separate "kid food" (I even added herbs and spices to his homemade baby food) Probably just luck but my ego likes to pretend it is all me :) He is used to lots of color in his food and I hope that since that is all he has ever known, he won't change (fingers crossed!!!) So hopefully these ideas will appeal to even the pickiest of eaters!


Cucumber Sandwich
2 slices bread (I cut the crusts for this one)
6 thin slices of cucumber
several spinach leaves, minced
organic cream cheese or Two minute veggie dip
sunflower seeds
salt and pepper
optional: avocado slices, sprouts, thinly sliced radishes, tomato slice

Put a good schmear of cream cheese or spread on both sides of the bread. Mix it up with veggie or flavored cream cheeses too, or even just a sprinkle of dill. Sprinkle sunflower seeds on one side of bread and minced spinach on the other and push down a little so they stick to the spread. Add thinly sliced cucumbers and any other veggie slices you want and sprinkle with salt and pepper. I like to smoosh the sandwich down so it is nice and thin and easy to eat. For my toddler, I cut into 4 squares. This is also fabulous on open faced toasted bagels (my staple lunch in college!)

Nut Butter and Fruit Sandwich
2 slices bread
nut butter spread of choice (I alternate between crunchy peanut and almond)
thinly sliced banana or apple
honey
cinnamon

Spread on the nut butter, add sliced fruit, drizzle some honey and sprinkle some cinnamon. For an occasional treat, grill! We do use jelly occasionally and I found an awesome jelly called St. Dalfour that has zero sugar in it and is sweetened with grape juice. Peach flavored is our favorite!

Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Avocado
2 slices bread
sliced organic cheddar
few leaves of spinach, minced
4 thin slices avocado
I add a thin slice of tomato from the garden when they are in season

Put cheese on bread, then add avocado and spinach. Melt a little butter in pan and grill starting with cheese side down. Cover for quicker melting. I press mine flat to make it nice and thin for a toddler's mouth. Add carmelized onions and sauteed mushrooms for the adults...amazing!

Tuna Melts
1 slice bread, toasted
1 small can wild caught tuna
minced veggies (cukes, pickles, spinach and red onion)
couple spoonfuls of mayo
squeeze of mustard
salt, pepper and dill to taste
sliced organic cheese

Mix tuna, veggies, mayo, mustard, and spices. Spread onto toast, cover with cheese and broil until cheese melts. For an on the go version, serve between two slices of soft bread and a slice of provolone. I cut into fingers for easier eating.

B.L.A.T's
2 slices bread, lightly toasted
2 pieces bacon
1/4 avocado mashed
lettuce
thinly sliced tomato
salt and pepper
mayo

Lightly spread mayo on one piece of toast and generously spread mashed avocado on other. Crumble the bacon for easier bites and press into avocado. Layer lettuce and tomato and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Press flat.

Veggie Sandwich:
2 slices bread
sliced tomato
sliced cucumber
sliced avocado
sprouts
lettuce or spinach
sliced pepperjack cheese
mayo and dijon mustard
salt and pepper
crushed potato chips

Spread mayo and mustard on bread. Layer veggies and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with crushed potato chips and serve with extra on the side. This is our staple sandwich when we our on summer vacation in Michigan!




Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Veggie Pasta with Herbs, Bacon and Gorgonzola


It has been quite some time since my last post. We had a 3 week vacation in Michigan and I have been slow to get back to reality! It was wonderful having a break from not only the daily "to do" list, but from technology as well. Our society is overly plugged in these days and as much as I love some of the technologies available today, I noticed that I felt much more relaxed and present without the constant consumption of checking facebook statuses, thinking in blog, reading blogs, and searching, searching, searching for recipes, window treatments, shoes, a diagnosis of weird symptoms, weather conditions, paint colors, decor ideas, hiking trails...sound familiar? 

But now I am back and I am ready to recommit to my blog because I truly believe that sharing healthy recipes, important knowledge about food, and encouraging people to garden is important. In fact, I have 4 friends here in Denver that started a garden this year because of me (and since I'm pretty new here, 4 is a pretty large percentage of my friends!) It is those small influences in life that can make a big impact on the world and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy to know that my passion for cooking and gardening actually inspires others to pick up a spatula or a shovel and literally dig in! Cooking and gardening have become less important to people and I think it is because not only are we way too busy to be bothered by such trivial chores as feeding our families healthy, homemade food, but our country has no food culture. Just about every other culture in this world revolves around the growing and preparation of food and people take real pride in cooking from scratch. So hopefully, in time, we can redefine our generation as the one who took a stand against industrialized food and got back into the kitchen!!!

So this was the recipe that finally got me back to my computer because it was just too good not to share! I am getting more creative and better at cooking without a recipe and one of my favorite types of meals to play around with is pasta! I knew I would be using a ton of veggies and as many of them from the garden as possible. I always use at least 4-5 cloves of garlic in everything I make, but with this pasta, I felt like using even more...8 or 9 seemed about right. I also had 4 pieces of organic bacon leftover from camping and, well, I do have a love affair with bacon so that was a no brainer. I wanted to use a small amount of strong cheese for some flavor. At the store I found an organic, raw milk gorgonzola from Oregon which sounded perfect. I also remembered I had some white wine in the fridge so, why not? And the highlight of the dish is tons of fresh herbs. I went out to the garden and snipped a handful of thyme, oregano, basil, sage, rosemary and parsley. A dash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and viola! Personally, I thought this dish to be restaurant worthy though I might be biased :) Bon Appetite!



Summer Veggie Pasta with Herbs, Bacon and Gorgonzola
serves 6-8

Ingredients:
16 oz pasta (I used Tinkyada Brown Rice Spirals)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter or ghee 
1 Tablespoon reserved bacon fat
8-10 cloves of garlic pressed or minced
1 zucchini cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 yellow squash cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 yellow onion sliced in crescents
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 ears of corn, kernals removed
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup white wine
2 large handfuls spinach,  chopped 
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup reserved pasta water
4 slices bacon chopped
2-4 ounces gorgonzola crumbled
1/3 cup chopped fresh herbs
juice from 1 lemon


Directions:
Cook pasta according to directions. While pasta is cooking, cook bacon reserving 1 Tablespoon of fat. Crumble and set aside. Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil and 2 Tablespoons butter to the pan and heat on medium high. Add onions and cook for at least 5 minutes until they begin to brown. Add the remaining vegetables,  and saute for several minutes. Add the white wine and herbs and let simmer until the majority of the liquid has evaporated. Add drained pasta back into the pot, add in the chopped spinach immediately so it can wilt, the vegetable mixture, pasta water, bacon, gorgonzola, pinenuts, and lemon juice and toss to coat. Serve with salt and freshly grated black pepper.




Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gluten Free, Vegan Teff Banana Pancakes with Spinach and Blueberries


You don't have to be Gluten Free or Vegan to enjoy these delicious pancakes that pack a seriously nutritious punch! Gluten Free baking can be a time consuming endeavor with so so results. These pancakes, on the other hand, are so quick and easy to make and satisfies the craving for something sweet and doughy without the guilt! I always freeze the leftovers for quick breakfasts and snacks for my toddler who gobbles them up.

Teff is an ancient grain originating in Ethiopia. Because the grains of teff are so small, the bulk of the grain consists of the bran and germ resulting in a highly nutrient dense grain. It is high in calcium (17 times the calcium found in whole wheat and barley!), phosphorous, iron, copper, aluminum, barium and thiamin. It also has an excellent amino acid composition and is high in protein and fiber. Teff is definitely one of my top choices for gluten free flours and can be found in the Gluten Free baking section at your grocery store or at a Health Food store.

This recipe was slightly modified from the original which I found at The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen Website, along with some great pancake tips. I've made the original several times but couldn't resist adding some fresh blueberries and spinach...yes spinach! Ever since I have started my love affair with greens, they go in everything! Hopefully my toddler will never learn to turn up his nose to food that is green because that is all this child has ever known! Once greens have been minced, they can go in just about everything without affecting the taste...only the color so starting your kids young is a whole lot easier! Who needs food coloring? I throw minced greens in grilled cheeses and quesadillas, pastas, rice, and now pancakes!

I made two batches. One with Blueberries and Spinach and one with Cinnamon and Spinach which makes for less messy snacks. Switching to real Maple Syrup is a great habit to get into since the alternative is filled with sugar and preservatives. Honey, agave, mashed bananas or berries, and almond butter also makes for great toppings.



 Teff Banana Pancakes with Blueberries or Cinnamon and Spinach

1 cup teff flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
2 Tbl ground flax seed
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbl cinnamon
1 cup water or non dairy milk (I use coconut milk)
1/4 cup mashed ripe banana (1 small banana)
2 Tbl melted virgin coconut oil
1 Tbl honey, agave, or maple syrup
1 cup minced spinach
1/2 cup minced blueberries

In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients and combine with the dry ingredients. Mix in the spinach. I only add blueberries to half the batter. If you want to add them to the whole batter, you might want to add more.



Heat a skillet over medium low heat until hot. Add a little coconut or olive oil and drop pancake batter by the 1/4 to 1/2 cupful. Flip pancakes after tiny bubbles form. Cook for another minute then transfer to a plate. Add about a 1/2 tsp of oil between batches.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Two Minute Veggie Dip

My two year old is just like most kids I know...he loves to dip! Except for the occasional splurge on hummus, I'm not a big fan of what's available in the store, and some of the healthier dip recipes I have are more time consuming.  Well the other day I realized I had a few tablespoons of organic Greek yogurt left so I had an idea. I put it in a little dipping dish, added a sprinkle of dill and garlic powder, a few dashes of salt, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and viola...one incredibly simple, healthy dip that was seriously delicious! My son was eating it with a spoon! Our favorite dippers are cucumbers, snap peas, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, jicama, red pepper and radishes. It also makes for a great sandwich spread, especially with cucumbers, spinach, sprouts, and sunflower seeds. Garden fresh tomatoes make a great addition when they are in season. 

Two Minute Veggie Dip:
Organic Greek Yogurt
Garlic Powder
Dill
Salt
Lemon Juice

Put as much Greek yogurt in a bowl as you want then add the rest to taste. It makes for a great afternoon snack or a kid friendly appetizer when entertaining. 


Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Green Smoothie


The green smoothie seems like all the new rage, but it is about the best trend you could ever try! Hopefully though, it will last a lifetime and not just a season! I started making smoothies last spring when I did my first "Clean" cleanse, and I have been making smoothies almost every day since, even on vacation. Switching to a more whole foods based diet can be overwhelming so I always tell people to start with the smoothie. It is incredibly quick in the morning, easy to clean up and versatile. You start your day with one meal that contains more nutrients than some people get throughout the entire day (or even a week!) And, you introduce the most nutritional food group that is most lacking in our diets...greens!!! All of a sudden you go from eating no greens ever to eating several bunches a week. Pretty awesome!!! Plus it is the perfect venue to add in all those super foods you have been hearing about! Our current favorites are hemp, chia and/or flax seeds, kombucha and coconut water. 

Parents, smoothies are not for adults only! We all struggle with getting enough fruits and veggies into our little one's diets. A smoothie makes it so easy!  I started my son on smoothies when he was a little over one. I started with sweeter smoothies made with sweetened kefir, but over the course of the year, we have removed the kefir and just stick to fruits, veggies, greens and non-dairy milks or water. I have made some with strong flavors like cilantro, ginger or kombucha and he literally downs them and asks for more! He even helps me make them and at 2, he can identify almost every fruit and vegetable. Not to brag, but I am pretty proud of my little boy's budding culinary knowledge!  And it all started with making smoothies and juicing! Getting kids involved in the kitchen is a great way to get them to eat a wider variety of foods. Plus, we have come to such a horrific place regarding our food system in this country that I feel it is my duty to educate our children about food and nutrition because not only is the current system making American's sicker and sicker at a very fast pace, but the earth cannot sustain it for much longer!

Our standard smoothie is berries, banana, coconut milk, kale and hemp seeds, but with this cleanse I started changing it up and have really appreciated the variety! Plus, it just gives us even more of a variety in the nutrients we are getting which is also important. A few words about dairy: Many smoothie recipes out there call for cow's milk and yogurt. I encourage you to start your smoothie endeavor dairy free. Even if you choose to include dairy in your diet, the majority of American's consume too much dairy and this is a great opportunity to try some of the non-dairy options. Dairy is very acidic and our bones actually have to release calcium to help alkalize the effects dairy has on our bodies so the calcium we get from dairy doesn't really do us much good. Greens, on the other hand, have tons of calcium that are much more absorbable. Plus, reducing your dairy consumption is gentler on the planet and on the well-being of the poor cows that undeservingly dedicate their lives to suffer for our pleasure. Not to mention the fact that dairy is highly allergenic and causes issues like stomach discomfort, congestion, seasonal allergies, pain and fatigue

Now for the recipes. Some of these recipes are from internet sites or from the book "Clean". Some of them did not originally call for greens but I cannot make a smoothie without them so in they go! You wouldn't even know the difference! And mix up your greens! We use different varieties of kale and spinach the most, but occasionally we use chard, collards, dandelion greens, beet greens or romaine. You can also make your own nut milk by soaking 1 cup of nuts for 3 hours, blend with 3 cups water and strain through a fine mesh strainer. You can add your own vanilla or agave to taste. This will last for 2 days in fridge. If you are new to green smoothies, start with a handful of greens. As you adapt to the taste, keep adding more and more. I usually put all of my other ingredients in first, then fill the rest of the blender with greens. Feel free to leave out the agave. Bananas and dates make great sweeteners so play around with adding either one. A good blender is key. I plan to invest in a Vitamix soon, but for now I have a Ninja. I find that blending for at least a few minutes helps get a better consistency, especially when blending tougher greens like kale.

Green Tea Smoothie:
3 cups frozen grapes or peaches
2 cups spinach
1 1/2 cups strong brewed green tea, cooled (I've even used mint flavored)
1 avocado
2 t honey

Kombucha Smoothie:
1 small cucumber
2 kiwis
1 cup ginger kombucha
1-2 handfuls of greens
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 T cilantro
6 ice cubes 

Orange Smoothie:
2 cups frozen peaches
1 cup carrot juice
1 cup orange juice
1-2 handfuls of greens
2 T ground flax
1 T freshly grated or minced ginger

Almond Butter Energy Smoothie
1/4 cup almond butter
1 t ground cardamom or cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut water
1 cup almond milk or water
1 cup frozen peaches
1-2 handfuls of greens
2 T hemp seeds
1-2 tsp agave
1/2 cup ice

Chocolate Blueberry Smoothie (scrumptious dessert for breakfast!)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1-2 handfuls of greens
2 T hemp seeds
1-2 tsp agave 
1-2tsp raw cacao powder, carob powder, or cocoa
1/2 cup ice

Tropical Green Smoothie
1 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen mango
1-2 kiwis
1 cup almond or coconut milk
1/2 cup coconut water
1-2 handfuls of greens
1-2 t agave
1/2 cup ice

Apple/Pear Smoothie (I make this one a lot in the fall)
2 apples
2 pears
1 cup cabbage
1 T freshly grated or minced ginger
1-2 t cinnamon
1-2 handfuls of greens
1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup almond or coconut milk or water
1/4 cup pecans or almonds (optional)
1/4-1/2 cup leftover oatmeal (optional)

Cheers!




Friday, May 18, 2012

Week One of Cleanse

After one week of cleansing, I can feel my body starting to wake up from hibernation. Throughout the week, I noticed tons of subtle changes taking place. Here is a list of some of the things I experienced:

1. Cravings are starting to disappear which frees up my mind to think about other stuff. In fact, I am hardly thinking about food at all at this point! This has an incredible side effect of making me naturally more present.

2.Taste buds are back to appreciating truly organic, natural food. When you get your taste buds back to this point, it becomes so easy to satisfy them and still maintain your health. A chocolate blueberry smoothie  or a cheeseless, veggie pizza on a gluten free crust becomes a decadent indulgence.


3. My body is getting good at knowing when it is hungry vs. when it is thirsty or bored. It is also getting really good at knowing when it is full. I couldn't even finish several of my solid meals this week. And the day I made roasted, salted cashews for a snack, after a couple small handfuls, I was totally satisfied and didn't want anymore. Pre-cleanse I would have gobbled them all up without any awareness and barely any enjoyment!

4. I am naturally being drawn back to stretching, yoga, meditation, and exercise without really having to try. When I am in a bad diet rut, I usually lose motivation to take care of myself in other ways too. But now that I am back in control of my diet, I am effortlessly wanting to make other healthy choices too.

5. My energy levels are slowly starting to increase. Overall I have been more tired this week, but I can feel this surge of energy pulsing through my body, almost like a vibrational current. It makes me feel a little amped up and wired. It is natural to feel this way in the first week or two as your body is adapting to not only detoxing, but to having excess energy that has been freed up from the demands of digestion and responding to immune stressors. 

6. I feel calmer and less overwhelmed. I have definitely had my irritable moments, especially in the evening when my hunger and fatigue are at there worst. That is when I usually make a cup of tea and call it a night. I've been heading upstairs around 7:30 or 8:00pm to take a bath, read, and stretch before bed. Precleanse I was getting really overwhelmed with my to-do lists and it was really starting to stress me out! Now, that to-do list is still there but it is not overwhelming me! Plus, when I am not constantly stressed and overwhelmed, I'm more productive, so it is a major win-win!

7. My confidence is really starting to come back! I feel much more at peace when I am living life as my authentic self. When I make decisions that go against what I know and believe in, it creates major inner turmoil and conflict which leads to guilt and disgust. Living in harmony with our beliefs creates a much more peaceful environment that supports us and allows us to thrive!

8. The fire within has been reignited and my passion for food is back with a vengeance! All it takes is a good ole' book about our horrific food industry to enrage me back to reality!  The book I just finished called "The Unhealthy Truth" by Robyn O'Brien is a MUST read for our generation!  The deception and corruption in our country regarding the very building blocks we nourish our and our children's precious bodies with is enough to make you want to have a nervous breakdown. BUT, if we don't know it, we can't change it, we can only suffer from it!!! Now that I am a mother, you better believe I will fight for better health and a better life for my baby! The author of the book lives in Boulder, CO which is only an hour away from me so I plan to contact her to see how I can get involved. It is time to take a stand!

9. My body pain has gotten worse which has been the only negative this week. I was consuming a lot of gluten, dairy and eggs precleanse (all sensitivities for me) and sometimes it can take a week or two to get those irritants out of your system. Hopefully it will get better in the 2nd week.  I've been taking a lot of baths and stretching, and tomorrow I am scheduled for an infrared body wrap and a deep tissue massage so at least I am trying to help get it under control!

10. My nasal passages are not driving me insane! It is SO dry here in Colorado and everything suffers, but especially my nasal passages. Every breath in and out would seriously irritate the crap out of me. But, now that I am drinking about a gallon of water a day, that annoyance has pretty much disappeared, with the added annoyance of spending half my day in the bathroom. Hooray!

11. Lastly, I lost 4 lbs! I had gradually gained about 5 lbs since the holidays so it was nice to say goodbye fairly quickly to those extra little bulges!

So as you can see, a lot of transformation is starting to take place in just one week! Cannot wait to see what the next two unfold!!!

Be Empowered. Be Authentic. Be at Peace. Be.



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Vegetables are in!

We have had such a fabulous spring here in Colorado which has made waiting to plant really hard! But, it was still getting down into the 30's at night so this paranoid gardener just couldn't chance it! After a cold stretch last weekend, the extended forecast called for highs in the 80's and lows in the 50's so I decided it was finally time!


This is my final plan for my 4 beds. It took many rough drafts to get it right, but I think I finally got it! I also wrote down the dates I planted to help me keep track. For the plants that I started from seed indoors, I marked an s (seed)  underneath with the date planted, and a t (transplant) with the date they were transplanted into the garden. On the back of this page I drew up a blank square foot diagram so that as I harvest and plant new things up until frost, I can have an ongoing record.


I soaked my bean, cucumber, zucchini, and nasturtium seeds to help facilitate germination. The beans, cukes and zucchini I only soaked for a couple hours but the nasturtium said to soak for 12-24. 


 This is my cool season bed planted 4/18.


Not even a month later! It is fun to see how much stuff grows. Pictures are a great way to document! Last year, our spring was so horrible that nothing grew at all in the first month!


This bed has cucumber seeds in the back, peppers in the second row, bush beans in the square with 9 white circles (I will plant 9 more in the square next to it in a few weeks) plus marigolds, dill, oregano and thyme, oh, and a pair of safety glasses in the top left hand square that I keep watering and nothing seems to happen??? :)


This bed has tomatoes in the back (I had to buy one big store bought one in hopes of getting some tomatoes a little earlier!) The next row contains a bunch of little lettuce seedlings, then I've got rosemary, basil, sage, parsley and nasturtiums.


This one will have pole beans growing up the back, carrots, beets and radishes growing along the left side, marigolds in the front, but most of the space will be taken up by zucchini. One little seed will grow into a ginormous plant that will produce more zucchini then you will know what to do with!!! Oh wait, yes I do...zucchini fritters, zucchini pancakes, zucchini soup, zucchini brownies, zucchini milk...ideas are endless. Don't worry, I will post all my favorite garden recipes when harvest time begins!

Happy Gardening!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Day 2 and 3 of Cleanse


Yesterday I started feeling the effects of the cleanse...which is a good thing!!!! But I will definitely feel worse before I feel better. My main complaint was that I was tired. I had a hard time getting out of bed in the morning and felt like I never fully woke up! I went through the motions of my morning, put my son down for his nap, made a delicious lunch and did something I rarely do...laid down and watched tv! It was crappy outside, husband was out of town, and my body was telling me it needed rest. Instead of pumping it full of caffeine or sugar to falsely wake it up (which causes more long term fatigue overall because it is SO taxing on the body!), I listened to my body and gave it the rest it was asking for. Imagine that! I know that my natural energy levels will kick in soon and that all the nutrients I am pumping my body full of will be far superior at keeping me going. But first my body needs to adjust to fewer calories. It won't take long and my body will be seriously grateful to have a nice long break from having to expend so much energy on digestion!

Today was my roughest day yet! Not only was I really feeling the fatigue and body aches that can come in the beginning of a cleanse, but I got my monthly cycle which naturally includes cramping and other pleasantries! Plus my recurring issues with low back and foot pain were at their worst. Add to the mix the fact that it is Mother's Day and my husband has been out of town for the entire weekend. That is one whopping recipe for a no good, very bad day! I was all set to throw in the towel and call it quits! BUT, even though I did cheat a little, I didn't do nearly the damage that I was trying to talk myself into! And now I am back to feeling strongly committed and ready for a new and hopefully brighter day tomorrow! After icing my foot and heating my back throughout the day, my pain levels are much more tolerable. And the first day of my cycle is always the worst. Things usually get better fast after that! I need to remember that even when things don't go my way and my motivation begins to diminish, I can recover! Motivation levels will not be 100% strong 100% of the time so instead of letting the times when it is low defeat me, I can just ride out the dip and wait until it rises again. Each minute of each day is a new opportunity. Even if I do mess up, I can make the right decision the next time. It does not have to be all or nothing!

Last year I maintained a strong commitment to my diet but once I started allowing certain things back in, it wasn't long before I was hooked! Now that I am in the early stages of cutting the very same foods out of my diet that I previously learned to live happily without, I find it fascinating how much I think about these foods!  Our culture is obsessed with food and almost every person living in this country has a relationship with food other than for purely nourishing the body. Once I started feeling the effects of eating dirty food, it started a downward spiral until I recreated the negative relationships with food I had previously debunked!  I mindlessly snack out of boredom and loneliness when Jamison is napping. I eat when I am tired and in pain just so I can enjoy something when I am feeling miserable.  I indulge on the weekends because it is something fun to do as a family.  I use food or Starbucks to get me out of the house when I am too fatigued and unmotivated to get moving. I cheat on my cleanse on Mother's Day because after having a horrible day, gosh darn it I deserve it! Deserve what??? Empty, poisonous calories? Bloating, fatigue and guilt in return for 5 minutes of satisfaction? So I am really using this opportunity to pay attention to my cravings and listen to what my body is trying to tell me. Food is definitely a substitute for something deeper so hopefully I can figure some things out! One thing I did notice today is that the majority of the times I was having intense cravings, I wasn't actually hungry. Now that my body is getting used to less food and more water, I am really beginning to feel what it is like to actually be hungry versus just wanting to eat. Good to know!


Breakfast
Day 2: Energy Smoothie (1/4 C almond butter, 1 t cinnamon or ground cardomom, 1 C water, 1/2 C coconut water, 1 C frozen peaches, 1-2 t agave, 2 kale leaves, 1/2 C ice)
Day 3: Kombucha Smoothie (1 small cucumber, 2 kiwis, 1 C ginger kombucha, 1/2 C coconut milk, 2 kale leaves, 2 T cilantro, 6 ice cubes)

Lunch
Day 2: Thai Vegetable Wraps with Almond Sauce (to make sauce blend 1T almond butter, 1t grated ginger, 1/2 juiced lemon, 1t apple cinder vinegar, 1 clove garlic, 1 t gluten free tamari. Roll shredded cabbage, matchstick carrots and cukes, sliced avocado and scallions into Romaine lettuce leaves and drizzle with sauce)
Day 3: Grilled cheese on Gluten free bread with avocado and spinach (one of my cheats!)

Snacks
Day 2: Cinnamon Sunflower Truffles
Day 3: Rice crackers and chocolate chips with peanut butter (another cheat!)

Dinner
Detox Green soup both nights

Activities
Day 2: epsom salt bath, stretched, meditated
Day 3: dry brushed, alternated hot and cold in the shower

Friday, May 11, 2012

Day 1 of Cleanse

Today is my official start date for my 3 week cleanse. For the last 4 days I have been focusing on cutting out some of the foods that had been gradually creeping back into my diet (gluten, dairy, sugar, eggs, coffee, alcohol). This made the transition into the cleanse a little easier on my body. Though I have to admit, I almost delayed the start date because I was PMSing so bad, which makes not giving into cravings THAT much harder!!! But when I went to bed last night, I adjusted my attitude with a little meditation and visualization which worked wonders! For the last couple months I have been in an "I can't" frame of mind, but throughout this cleanse I want to really pay attention to my thoughts and when that negativity shows up, remind myself that I CAN!!! And I WILL!!!! Just take a few deep breaths and let those negative thoughts float away. We have to remember that those thoughts are not true in any way, shape or form, but if we believe them and we attach to them, then they will create that reality for us!

So, today was a new day with a new attitude and I have to admit, I am psyched for this cleanse! I am already going into it with a great sense of confidence since I won the argument with my brain which was so desperately trying to convince me to delay starting! It is a cold, rainy day which happens maybe twice a year in Colorado, so it is a nice omen to begin a cleanse on a day the earth is cleansing too! 

Breakfast: Green Tea Smoothie (3 cups frozen grapes, 2 cups spinach, 1 1/2 cups strong brewed green tea, cooled, 1 avocado, 2 tsp honey, 2 T flax seeds)

Lunch: Green Curry over rice (cauliflower, carrot, zucchini, onion, and green beans in a spicy curry/coconut milk broth)


Dinner: Detox Green Soup

Activities: epsom salt bath, dry brushed, hot/cold shower, stretched, and meditated

I have also been drinking massive amounts of water and tea. Every time I get the slightest hunger pang, I just go in and drink a glass of water and feel instantly better. Plus, it is so freaking dry here in Colorado, and I know I don't get enough water to combat that dryness, so I am hoping to get into a better hydration habit as well. I already feel a little more lubricated then usual!

I am going to try to post as much as possible throughout this cleanse to share my favorite recipes and document how I am feeling. 

Blessings to you!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Prepping for a Cleanse

 
One of the most important steps to take before beginning a cleanse is preparing your fruits and veggies. Before I went to the store today, I first cleaned out my fridge to make room for all of the produce I would be stocking it with. If you keep a lot of unclean foods on hand, it is a good idea to toss or donate anything that will be too tempting for you. Then I went to the grocery store and picked out all of my fruits and veggies for the week. I brought them home, took off any stickers, washed them all, trimmed them up and laid them out on drying mats. I peeled the outer leaf off of my cabbage and cut it into quarters, chopped my broccoli and cauliflower up, peeled and trimmed several carrots, took apart and trimmed my celery, and rinsed and de-stemmed my radishes and beets. Now they will all be ready to go when I want to use them! Greens do not hold up as well once washed and do better when rinsed prior to using. I put those in plastic bags with paper towel wrapped around them to absorb any excess water. Not only does this save a ton of time during the week, especially when hunger strikes and your first instinct is to grab something quick and easy, but it also gets you mentally prepared and starts you off on the right foot. It is exciting to look into your fridge and see an array of organized, ready to go veggies at your disposal!

 Another important aspect is to have your meals picked out and your recipes close at hand. I write out a general plan of meals I want to consume during the week, but each night I make a more specific plan outlining what I will have for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks the next day. That way, I don't have to think about it, I just go in the kitchen and follow my recipes.


Tomorrow I will start a 4 day Elimination Diet before the actually cleanse which I will start on Friday. It will consist of more solid meals than the actual cleanse and really just serves the purpose of cutting out the foods you will be avoiding to gently prepare your body. I will start my day with a smoothie and possibly a light breakfast or a snack a couple hours later. Then lunch and dinner with possibly a snack in between. The point of this cleanse is not to starve yourself so there is room for snacks, just have a plan for those too so that you are not tempted to grab something processed or packaged. I usually plan to make enough at dinner to have leftovers for lunch the next day.


Day 1 of Elimination Diet:
Breakfast: Smoothie.  Here is a link to Smoothie Recipes from the Clean Program to give you some ideas.
Lunch: Leftover Spring Rice Pasta
Dinner: Big Green Salad, one of the recipes from the book. I will post the recipe tomorrow.
Snacks: Cinnamon Sunflower Truffles These are divine! Plus they make a great snack for kids too...mine devours them! I have been making these for awhile now from one of my favorite blogs, The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, which is another fabulous site that has a plethora of recipes suitable for cleansing. Any additional snacks will just be a handful of carrots or a piece of fruit.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tips on Cleansing


It is time for a cleanse! I have noticed my eating habits have progressively gotten worse over the last couple months and boy am I feeling it physically! I feel lethargic, apathetic, and have lots of muscle and joint pain. And bad decisions just perpetuate bad decisions until I'm hooked and then the cravings get the best of me! Fortunately the opposite is also true, good decisions perpetuate good decisions and builds incredible confidence and motivation! If you are having any issues with motivation, I highly recommend checking out 16 ways to get motivated in one of my favorite blogs, zenhabits

I have decided to do Alejandro Junger's Clean program again, which I did last year. It was an incredible journey and the book and online support are fantastic tools to guide you through the detox process. Plus they contain a plethora of recipes that will most likely become staples in your diet. I highly recommend purchasing this book if you are serious about cleansing because he goes into more detail about the actual cleanse, and the knowledge you will gain will change your life. Or visit The Clean Program website. The program consists of a liquid breakfast, a solid lunch and a liquid dinner. The liquid meals include freshly made juices, smoothies and pureed soups which are surprisingly filling. I do not purchase the expensive extra's they try to sell on the website. I believe that the diet change alone is enough. I will be starting an Elimination Diet on Monday May 7th, then starting the actual cleanse on Friday May 11th until Friday June 1st.

Tips on Cleansing:

1. Decide the length of your cleanse. 3 weeks seems to be the perfect length to really maximize the detox process and create new habits that will carryover into your daily life. But if 3 weeks seems like too much of a commitment, start with 1 or 2, especially if it is your first time. You may just get hooked and want to keep going!

2. Realize that the first week will be the toughest. Your cravings will be strong, your body will feel a little fluish and sluggish and your dreams might be vivid BUT, if you can make it through that initial 4-7 days, your cravings will disappear, the fire within will awaken and you just might feel better than you ever have in your entire life. Mysterious aches, pains and digestive issues will begin to disappear, you will experience better sleep, tons of energy, a clear head, less mood swings, weight loss and an incredible sense of confidence.

3. Schedule it into your calendar and prepare. Try to not to overbook yourself during that time. Times of major transition or turmoil are not ideal times to cleanse so look ahead and try to pick a time that is less busy. Weekends are good times to start so that you can get all your shopping and prepping done and already have two days under your belt before the week starts. Some people can maintain an active social life while cleansing and feel empowered by being around others without indulging, but, if you are like me, I like to take a break from the world and take the opportunity to indulge in some quiet, introspective time.

4. Cleansing is not just about eliminating toxins, but it is also equally important to introduce foods and activities that help facilitate the detox process. I am going to make a list of all of the foods I cut out when cleansing, the foods I focus on eating a ton of, and the activities I make part of my daily cleansing routine. But this is a personal preference. Many cleanses allow animal products in the form of organic poultry and wild caught seafood. So listen to your body and pick the foods you are most addicted to and the ones you may even suspect to be an allergy.

Foods to Avoid:
1. Gluten (wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut)
2. Animal products (including dairy and eggs) I will consume organic chicken and wild caught seafood sparingly.
3. Cane sugar, including chocolate (healthy alternatives like agave and stevia are allowed in small amounts but use sparingly since most of us are addicted to highly sweetened foods)
4. Coffee (I do consume a little yerba mate and green tea but try to limit caffeine consumption)
5. Alcohol
6. Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants) A surprising amount of people do not react well to these veggies which are a huge contributor to joint pain so if you have any issues with pain, I would cut them out of your diet for awhile.
7. Anything processed or prepackaged. Anything with chemicals listed in the ingredients. If it has more than 5 ingredients or an unpronounceable ingredient, it's a no no. Stick entirely to whole foods if possible.
8. Soy. Some cleanses might include tofu or soy milk but soy is a genetically modified food that is highly processed, overconsumed and highly allergenic.


Foods to enjoy, preferably organic:
1. GREENS!!! Kale, Chard, Collards, Dandelion greens, Beet greens, Arugula, Spinach. Mix them up!
2. Veggies: go for organic, in season and variety in color if possible! Cruciferous veggies are especially cleansing!
3.  Fruits: Again go for organic, in season if possible and variety! Berries are especially cleansing, lemons are very alkalizing and avocados are high in good fat! Try to avoid Oranges, grapefruits, grapes and bananas.
3. Fresh garlic
4. Fresh ginger
5. Herbs and spices not only make everything SO much better, but have great health benefits so pick your favorites and start sprinkling! I keep parsley and cilantro in a cup of water with a bag over top in my fridge at all times! They will last much longer that way. Better yet, plant an herb garden!
6. Nuts and Seeds (raw and unsalted are best, avoid peanuts)
7. Grains: there are tons of grains out there so experiment and see which ones you like best, quinoa, brown rice, wild rice,  millet, buckwheat, teff and non GMO corn (which can be highly allergenic so pay attention to your body)
8. Beans and lentils
9. Unrefined Oils. Best ones to have on hand: virgin coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil
10. Dairy substitutes: rice, nut and coconut milks
11. Lots and lots of water (preferably purified) to help flush the toxins out. We had a reverse osmosis water filter installed in our last house which I am hoping to do here soon because it is kind of scary what is actually in our drinking water!

Activities that facilitate detoxing:
1. Dry skin brushing. Buy a body brush and brush your entire body before each shower. Start with your extremities and always brush towards your heart. It is so incredibly invigorating and not only does it exfoliate, but it stimulates your lymphatic system
2. Tongue scraping. You can either buy a tongue scraper or just use a metal teaspoon. Every morning, look at your tongue and if you notice a white residue on the back of your tongue, scrape it off. This is an ayurvedic practice that helps remove toxins that build up on your tongue overnight. 
3. Neti pot. If you have never used a neti pot, you should get in the habit! Not only is it a great practice for detoxing to help flush out the sinus mucus that might initially worsen while cleansing, but always a good practice to hydrate dry nasal passages and help sooth allergies and stuffy noses. It feels amazing!
4. Hot/Cold Plunge. Alternating between hot and cold water while in the shower is an incredibly invigorating way to boost circulation and detoxification. The vessels in your skin relax and dilate with heat and contract with cold. When this relax/contract pattern happens, your skin pumps almost as much blood as your heart. Plus it seriously energizes you!
5. Epsom Salt baths. Taking baths is an incredibly luxurious and relaxing activity to do while cleansing, and always for that matter! By adding epsom salts, you increase the detox process because the salts help draw toxins out of your body.  Add at least 2 cups to your bath
6. Exercise. It is a good idea to tone down the intensity of your exercise program while cleansing, especially in the beginning, but keep your body moving to help circulate the toxins out of your blood stream. Do what you love but some of the best activities are yoga, walking/hiking, and bike rides. Take these opportunities to be truly present and enjoy nature.
7. Meditation. If you have never meditated, now is a great opportunity to research the topic and start practicing. Start with 5 minutes and remember that the goal is not to completely clear your mind, but to not attach to your thoughts. The main concept is to focus on your breath and whenever you find yourself wrapped up in a thought (which will happen a lot, especially in the beginning) gently and without judgement, bring your awareness back to your breath.
8. Journal your experience
9. Take time to reflect and express gratitude for the blessings in your life
10. Read an inspirational book and/or watch one of the many transformational and important food documentaries out there...get educated and inspired!
11. Breathe, Love, and Be Present.

PEACE!!!


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Time to Plant!!!!

I have been anxiously awaiting this day for weeks now! After a very time consuming and laborious weekend of sifting my soil, I finally came to the realization that the shortcut I took last year by buying garden soil in bulk did not pay off at all!!! After all that sifting, I still had soil that was full of clay and turned into a lake of sludge when watered. So, in the end, I went and bought bagged stuff and started over...lesson learned: do it right the first time!!!! But what to my wondrous eyes should appear, but prepackaged square foot gardening mix, yippee!!! Mel Bartholomew(the creator of square foot gardening) recommends a soil mix of 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 compost which is costly and annoying to mix for 4 beds...hence the reason I bought soil in bulk. But now they come in handy, dandy premixed bags, 2 cubic feet in size and costing $12.99. I'll take it!


So soil is ready (in one bed...got 3 more to go!) I soaked it really good so that it is nice and moist for planting (and the water just seeped right in like it was supposed to, big sigh of relief!) I soaked 8 snap pea beans in lukewarm water overnight to help jump start the germination process. I made my square foot grid by tying twine to nails drilled in at one foot intervals. So now it is time to begin. My little seedlings are dying to get our of their cubicles and spread their roots!

First I made my grids of where I would be planting. I planted broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower in the single holes, spinach seeds in the square with 9 boxes. Chard, kale, lettuce and cilantro went into the 4 box squares, and carrots radishes and beet seeds went into the squares with 16 boxes. Snap peas went in a row at the top of the bed and will need a trellis to support them.

Where I planted my seedlings, I made depressions around them so water would easily absorb around the roots. Where I planted seeds, I made a 1 inch depression, filled it halfway with vermiculite, dropped in my seed and then topped it off with vermiculite. Then I lightly watered the seedlings and misted the seeds. I also planted late afternoon when the sun wasn't as hot because that can be a shock to new transplants. It is very important to keep the soil moist at all times so the new transplants don't dry out and the seeds can germinate.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Current Favorite Salad

Most of my family knows me as the best salad maker. I don't say that to brag, it's just I LOVE to get creative with the salad and they appreciate that.  The number one rule to great salads is homemade dressings. I have bought store bought dressings a handful of times in my life and every time I am left incredibly disappointed. I realize that making dressing takes about maybe 5 minutes and is SO worth it every single time!!!! I go through salad phases too where I get hooked on certain ingredients for both salad and dressing. This particular phase has lasted over a year which is a really long time for a salad phase, so it is obviously sensational!

Salad
mixed greens
avocado
red onion, thinly sliced
grapes or strawberries chopped
celery thinly sliced
cilantro
sunflower seeds
dried cranberries

Dressing
balsamic vinegar
dijon mustartd
honey
salt and pepper
olive oil

I often make enough dressing for 2 dinner salads for my husband and I so I don't have measurements for larger quantities. The key is equal parts vinegar and oil, but don't mix oil in until the end while vigorously whisking other ingredients. I usually do a dollop of mustard, a drizzle of honey and salt and pepper to taste. I probably use about  2-3 T each of vinegar and oil. If you want to make a larger quantity, start with 1/4  cup each of vinegar and oil, 2-3 T mustard, 1-2 T honey, and salt and pepper. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for awhile. Mix them up in a mason jar and then leftovers can be easily stored.This dressing is a little on the vinegary side which is how I like it. Traditional dressings are 3 part oil to 1 part vinegar which is a little too oily for me, but you can always adjust the amounts to find the ratio that you like best.